How to build adequate fodder reserves on your farm
This year has been a very challenging year regarding grass production and it was noted the recetn National Dairy Conference that it is likely that grassland production will be reduced by 3.5 – 4.0t DM/ha on average across farms, according to Teagasc Researcher Joe Patton.
While some of this production has been already replaced in the diet of the herd with both concentrate and grass silage, some farms face the winter with insufficient feed supply, he said.
He noted that a fodder survey completed at the end of October showed that one third of farmers nationally are still short 15pc of fodder.
“This is equivalent to a deficit of three weeks feeding, based on a 145-day winter, this should not be ignored,” he said.
Building a fodder reserve
The challenge facing dairy farmers is to ensure that feed supplies are increased on farms for future winter and drought periods, he said. Building a high feed reserve will take several years – however there are a number of key principles to bear in mind, he said. These include;
• Stock the farm to the grass growth capacity of the farm, do not build a farm system based around imported feed
• Only over winter priority stock on the farm, if retaining cull cows or if selling replacement heifers make sure the winter feed is available